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Wray Ward Laseter Softens United Way's Image

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A new campaign from Wray Ward Laseter for the United Way of Central Carolinas doesthe unexpected: It does not ask for money.

The pro-bono television, print and radio effort, valued at $1 million in production costs and media exposure, focuses on how the charitable organization helps people throughout the year.

"It was important that contributors know their money is achieving positive results in the lives of people in need," said Diane Wright, vice president of marketing for the Charlotte, N.C.-based client.

The new work extends the regional entity's long-running fund-raising campaign, "Without you, there's no way."

Jennifer Appleby, president of the Charlotte shop, said the charity was concerned that it was perceived as an aggressive fund-raiser. "Donors wanted to see where their dollars were going," she said.

Using "I am no longer ... " as a serial tagline, the campaign features black-and-white images of North Carolinians who, because of the United Way, are no longer statistics and no longer without hope.

In one 30-second TV spot, freelance director Mark Claywell of Savannah, Ga., trains the camera on a Charlotte park. Text identifies various people as recipients of United Way's services. In a playground, for example, a father signing to his deaf child is "no longer disconnected." This line is stenciled onto a children's slide.

The idea of blending the tagline into the environment was developed by WWL senior art director Aaron Thornton.

A second commercial is set on a busy downtown street corner.

Print ads, which are appearing in North and South Carolina dailies including the Charlotte Observer, spotlight individual stories. Radio focuses on groups such as the elderly, children and the illiterate.